Six-time All-Ireland winning Dublin footballer Michael Darragh Macauley says he would not have achieved his success without the skill set he picked up playing basketball.
Macauley was speaking on “Bench Talk”, a new series on Basketball Ireland’s Instagram page. The Eanna Basketball man said his time on the court helped him massively.
“When I am running through the middle of Croke Park and I have Kerry defences running at me, I have learned how to make my decisions on a court – how many metres is on a basketball court – in a much smaller space. That is where you learn handling, that’s where you learn all that. That’s huge. You can ask anyone, ask Liam McHale, ask Ronan McGarrity, ask Kieran Donaghy, all these lads. I’d say I’d be nowhere without it, just generally the Dublin team wouldn’t look at me and the last decade would not have happened for me if I didn’t have a basketball in my hand as a kid.”
The basketball influence in the Dublin camp extends beyond Macauley. Jason Sherlock played international basketball, while DCU Mercy’s women’s coach Mark Ingle was brought in by Jim Gavin as a defensive specialist.
“Jim (Gavin) is willing to learn off anyone to be honest with you. We’ve done very, very little. It has been very hyped up how much basketball we’ve done. We have done very little to be honest with you. I used to hate playing basketball with the lads because they were just a pack of muck savages!”
Bench Talk host Jacqui Hurley quipped “I can’t see them calling their own fouls?!”
“No, it’s horrendous! We did it pre-season a handful of times, but I think all the lads appreciated it. I suppose another thing, the changing times is that I would come into the dressing room now and everyone is talking about ‘did you see Kevin Durant’s block on blah, blah, blah’and I’m like ‘how do you know that?’ I’d say there are at least 15 players in that (Dublin) team that know more about NBA than I do.”
Macauley encouraged young children to play as many sports as possible and called on sports coaches to be more receptive.
“If I was coaching football teams, which I never will! I would have them playing basketball because it is huge. I think when you are coaching teams I think even to do something different is good psychologically, to get them thinking in a different way. But yeah, the basketball is huge.”
The Michael Jordan documentary ‘The Last Dance’ has seen a continuation in the resurgence of interest in basketball in Ireland, but Macauley admits it’s hard to capitalise on.
“It’s tough, without a doubt the interest is there. I think the facts of it is, there is a lot to be done at the top level. If you look at coaching, I think Dublin has something like nearly 50 GPO’s thoughout Dublin. I think it is around 50,to teach kids to skills of Gaelic Football. Basketball Ireland has one in Leinster at the moment to look after coaching. That’s tough, that’s the numbers you are dealing with. Obviously if Basketball Ireland could have 50 in Dublin they would, of course they would, they don’t have the resources that the GAA have at the moment.”
Episode 2 of Bench Talk features the Randolph’s - Republic of Ireland international and West Ham goalkeeper Darren Randolph and Ireland and Templeogue’s Neil Randolph. It will air on Tuesday 16th June at 8pm on Basketball Ireland’s social channels.